The 6 Worst Security Threats At Events

Running an event can be a stressful burden – not only must you manage the logistics, staff, and sales of your occasion, but you bear the responsibility for ensuring everyone is kept safe and healthy. In most cases, your event will go off without a hitch, but if it doesn’t… the consequences could prove disastrous to you, your attendees, and your business.

From the very moment people begin arriving at your event, through to when your last guest leaves, your event could be disrupted or derailed by any number of security risks. This isn’t limited to the venue itself, either – queuing up beforehand and leaving the premises afterwards both present unique threats to your attendees.

A robust security plan will be vital to making sure these threats are minimised, and your event is kept safe and secure. For this reason, we’ll examine some of the most common and dangerous risks at events, and explore how each threat can be comprehensively addressed and mitigated by taking a variety of different security measures.


The 6 Worst Security Threats To Watch Out For

Deterrence and vigilance will be critical to dealing with the following security threats.

1. Mass Casualty Events

While nobody wants to accept that the unthinkable could happen, it’s an unfortunate reality that mass casualty events can and do occur. Whether it’s a terrorist attack aimed at killing as many civilians as possible, or a catastrophic accident resulting in multiple injuries, these rare incidents are the worst-case scenario for any event planner.

An example that may come to mind is the 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing, in which a terrorist targeted a concert with a nail bomb, resulting in over 1000 attendees injured or killed as they left the premises. Alarmingly, multiple people had spotted and reported the perpetrator prior to the event. Regardless, he was not approached by either police or show security beforehand, throwing away a crucial opportunity to help save lives.

A more recent example is the 2024 Moscow Concert Hall Attack, with four gunmen storming the theatre and killing at least 145 concert-goers before fleeing the scene. Despite the dangers to himself, a 15-year-old cloakroom assistant acted heroically and saved hundreds of lives by leading people out of a back entrance through the building’s offices.

Drawing from these examples, vigilant and reactive security measures are crucial to ensuring the most lives can be saved if such an incident were to occur. Professional security officers use ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) training to identify and challenge potential threats, by asking suspicious individuals if they can help in any way. This worsens the suspect’s paranoia, and deters them from taking any further reconnaissance or action.

Should this fail, early warning of an emergency can make all the difference. While unarmed security officers may be unable to deal with an armed attack, they can quickly determine the intent of intruders and report back, buying time for the emergency services to be called, and giving staff the chance to save lives by leading guests out of any enclosed spaces.


2. Crowd Control

Another major concern of large-scale events is crowd control, with crushes and stampedes being an all-too-common occurrence. Many of us will remember the tragedy of Hillsborough, in which failures by police resulted in 97 fans losing their lives in a devastating crush. It’s something that no one wants to see again, and the mistakes made by police have led to new practices and advancements being put in place to improve crowd control.

Unfortunately, people don’t always react how you might expect, and crowds often have a mind of their own. For this reason, any event planner must make sure that their guests are guided around the premises in a safe and orderly manner. This might include the use of barriers, signage and stewards to direct people, multiple exits/entrances to ease congestion, and staggered arrival times to limit the number of guests entering at any one time.

For larger events, a detailed crowd flow plan may need to be created, outlining exactly how you will move people around your premises. This willl assess where all entrances, exits, ticket checks, and major stress points might be located, to better prepare for any and all eventualities. Risk assessments and evacuation plans must also be completed to protect from fire hazards and medical emergencies.

Crucial to note is that crowd control isn’t limited to foot traffic – from simple traffic accidents to shocking incidents of road rage, a disorganised car park could cause chaos too, Therefore, parking management and traffic direction are just as important as crowd flow in maintaining order at your event.


3. Drunken Behaviour

Many events involve alcohol, so whether it’s a music festival or a wedding, some people will inevitably take it too far. Fights and assaults are a common problem, with research finding that approximately 38% of all violent incidents in the UK were committed under the influence of alcohol, making it the leading cause of violence in the country.

On top of this, instances of harassment and sexual offences skyrocket when alcohol comes into the picture, while the substance also makes it more likely for people to commit petty crimes such as theft, drug use, and public order offences. No matter the type or size of the function, the turmoil that intoxicated individuals cause to your event can prove highly disruptive.

While there is no guaranteed way to avoid drunken behaviour, there are measures that can be taken to ensure any drunken or disorderly conduct is dealt with robustly. Firstly, events with alcohol should deploy more security officers than those without, to address the increased volatility of the situation and prevent any officers from becoming overwhelmed. At the same time, precise training in de-escalation and deterrence procedures will help keep the peace and stop avoidable conflict from breaking out.


4. Unauthorised Access

When running an event, the last thing you want is someone skulking around behind the scenes. Whether it’s a member of the public trying to gain entry without a ticket, a party crasher looking to cause trouble, or someone planning something more sinister in the back corridors, keeping trespassers out of your event is of great importance.

Not only does this protect your revenue, ensuring only paying customers or those on the guest list are admitted inside, but it ensures no trouble from the outside works its way in. Depending on the type of event you’re running, this could be crucial, with protesters, drug dealers, and rival fans all presenting different but no less serious security threats.

The threat of unauthorised access is best mitigated with the use of electronic and surveillance systems. CCTV cameras can monitor a broad area of your premises, making it much more difficult for someone to sneak into your premises unnoticed. This will provide early warning of trespassers, allowing your staff the chance to respond as soon as possible. Then there are access controls, such as fobs or keycards, that provide a simple but effective physical barrier to those without the right clearance. This could be vital in preventing anyone inside the event from gaining access to vulnerable backrooms and staff areas.


5. Prohibited Items

Unfortunately, guests will often attempt to sneak illegal or prohibited items into your premises. Whether it’s smuggling spirits into a non-alcoholic event, bringing drugs to sell to others, or carrying a knife or weapon in case of any trouble, prohibited items can cause a great deal of trouble for your event.

Attendee behaviour may be altered if dangerous substances are consumed, making them more violent or disruptive. In worst case scenarios, drug use may lead to overdoses and even death, so it’s imperative these substances are kept away from your event. This isn’t a rare problem, either, with studies estimating that two-thirds of festival-goers were taking drugs at some point during the course of a festival. Then there’s the threat of a knife fight or weapon use cutting through the peace of your occasion.

Catching prohibited items at the door is key to stopping the flow into your event. Professional event security officers will search bags and frisk attendees, deterring anyone who might be thinking about taking something in. Drug sniffer dogs will also play an important role, using their heightened senses to detect and alert their handler to illegal carriers. To protect the boundary of your event and ensure there is no breach, mobile patrols may also be critical.


6. Theft

With many events featuring large and intoxicated crowds in tightly enclosed spaces, theft is inevitable. Pickpocketing and petty theft are the most common occurrences, with phones, wallets, and purses among the most likely items to be stolen. If the victim doesn’t notice until later, the culprit will often blend into the crowd, with little that can be done from there on in. As a result, attending such an event will always pose the risk of personal items being stolen.

However, what could be more devastating is when expensive or valuable equipment is taken from the events organisers or visiting performers themselves. Both during the event (when crowds and staff will be distracted), and when the event is winding down (with security measures more relaxed), opportunities will present themselves for thieves to infiltrate and take what they can find.

To prevent this, it’s crucial to maintain vigilance at all times. Access controls can create a significant barrier for thieves trying to get behind the scenes, while CCTV acts as a simple deterrent to prevent pickpocketing and petty theft.


How Churchill Can Secure Your Event

Depending on the type and size of your event, determining what security you require and what threats need to addressed can be a difficult undertaking. Each premises will need a tailored approach, starting with a comprehensive risk assessment to assess the specifics of your site. From there, a security plan can be put together, which will designate entry/exit points, create emergency/evacuation procedures, take measures for crowd control, and deploy officers around the function.

As the UK’s #1 ACS-Approved Contractor for four years running, Churchill Support Services knows exactly what it takes to keep your event running smoothly. Our dedicated events team create detailed event security plans to address all your concerns and ensure the safe and successful running of your function. We can provide a range of services, from event security guard teams and mobile patrols to CCTV and access control installations. We also offer more specialised services such as canine security and close protection.

Churchill secures events of all types – whether you’re planning a musical performance, a family gathering, a corporate expo, a sports match, or a high-profile visit – we have experience across a broad spectrum of occasions. To find out how we can secure your specific event, reach out to us today.

For a free, no obligation quote, use the form adjacent or call us on the number listed above.

John Melling

Group Chief Executive Officer

John has a proven track record for motivating and leading high performance teams and has helped mentor and develop many people at Churchill who now hold key or senior positions within the business. John is committed to delivering only the finest services, exercising compelling leadership, maintaining good internal morale and striving to resolve any challenges efficiently and effectively.